Panasonic's plasma TVs consistently get some of the highest ratings in the business. And that trend will continue with the company's 2007 line, which was unveiled today in NYC. All the basics were announced during CES, but now we have more info, including release dates and pricing. The highlight, and also the most controversial entry, is a 42-inch 1080p...



The TH-42PZ700 is a big deal because it's got the highest resolution of any 42-inch plasma screen on the market (1920x1080p).

It's controversial because if you set up a 42-inch screen at the recommended viewing distance, about 7 feet, then your eye won't be able to tell the difference between 720p and 1080p. Panasonic's top tech guy agreed with me on this point. He said that you might get a slight boost from connecting the screen to an HD source, but you'll have to look really carefully to notice a difference. His honesty would not dissuade me from buying this TV at all.

First off, Panasonic finally ditched the silver bezel in favor of a much nicer gloss black frame. They've improved the anti-glare qualities of the topmost layer of the screen. Side-firing speakers—not sure how good these sound since everything in the room was wired to bigger and better speakers. It's got two HDMI ports, as is to be expected. And they threw in an SD Memory Card slot, which is also becoming standard in high-end plasmas. And through an exclusive deal with GalleryPlayer, Panasonic is going to be selling SD cards full of famous paintings that you can show off to pretend like you know something about art. There is a prestige factor to having 1080p too.

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It's available in June for $2,499.95.

The question is, what's a better deal: Panasonic's 42-inch 1080p or Pioneer's 42-inch 1080i? The Pioneer TV can be bought for $2,000 right now, and since the resolution is basically indistinguishable at this screen size, it's a pretty tough choice. Which would you pick?